Thursday, March 26, 2009

"You're too fat to fuck"

No, that's not just an eye-catching title for this post, it is the first words of Judith Moore's brilliant memoir "Fat Girl." While plenty of the men I have pursued for sexual purposes in my disease found me perfectly acceptable for naughty chat, phone sex or even a roadside or office "servicing," they too have found me "too fat to fuck." Even more men, upon seeing my photograph, simply stopped talking, disappeared and pretended as if the online conversation never started. And while I might catch the attention of a few dozen men with my online antics, I've never been someone who would be picked up at a bar ... unless it was closing time and even the ugly fat girls get pretty then. A dear friend chose this week to disclose that while he had been sporting a hard on for me about a year ago, once he saw what I looked like he was "physically turned off by (my) weight." He told me this as if I weren't already keenly aware of why his attitude had shifted. We remained friends and value one another on a host of levels ... but the pain is no less.

My friend's disclosure prompted me to begin to write about something that has been calling to my writing fingers for a while now. For some time, maybe months, I have felt the need to write about and talk about the fact that for as long as I can remember I've been not just overweight, but obese -- to explore at some level how much I hate my body and at many levels myself.

Interestingly, it's far, far easier to share the shame of my sexual escapades than it is to talk about being fat. I suppose one reason is because in my addict mind, sex gives me significance. Obesity, while it is there for the world to see, strips away any significance I hope to have. Whether it is in a job, a friendship, or simply walking down the street, the first thing people notice about me is that I am fat. I carry my fat with me everywhere. Yet I hide its pain deep inside.

I'm the person for whom people have to think twice about which table to choose at a restaurant or even a dinner party to accomodate my fatness. I'm the person who has to ask for a "lap belt" when I ride on an airplane. I'm the enormous person in the room who is invisible.

And, psychology tells me that I am invisible because I want to be, that all my fat is "protecting me" from the things I fear most -- sexual attraction, intimacy, and transparency. I don't have to be anything else because I am fat. My therapist often tells me that my behaviors and choices are always serving me in some way. I suppose she is right, and at some level I can accept it, but I'm not sure I can dwell on it long enough to even absorb its truth, much less accept it.

So, at least I broke the ice in writing on this topic. I want to explore it more and hope to come back to it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Drinking from a fire hose

Some days I feel as if I'm "stuck" and other days it's like drinking from a fire hose. The "awakenings" and realizations come so fast that I can't seem to process them fully.

Today, I am realizing that my prayers that my character defect of dishonesty be removed and replaced with transparency are being answered one day at a time. I have been avoiding contacting my sponsor and even though I didn't know why -- I was honest with her and told her what I knew -- that it wasn't personal, that I wasn't trying to hide anything, but it just seemed to be something I was avoiding.

I talked with my therapist about this avoidance today, along with some goals I have for working toward healthy sexuality and intimacy in my marriage. In our discussions, a pattern was uncovered. I feel comfortable with giving to others -- whether it is physically or emotionally -- but I feel very uncomfortable, and ill at ease in receiving nurturing, care and support. I don't feel comfortable with my body, and this aversion to contact with my sponsor tells me that I also don't feel comfortable with exposing my spirit either. I love talking with the women I sponsor and other recovery friends. I love rubbing my husband's back at night. But turn things around and I'm so ill at ease. I don't have the answer for how to resolve this yet, but I have faith that more will be revealed. I am feeling certain that this continues to center around my need to be "in control."

These realizations come on the heels of reading this profound statement in Maureen Canning's book, "Love, Anger, Lust": "In the childhood abuse, we sexually addicted people suffered, we were forced to disconnect from ourselves. It was the result of sacrificing our authentic emotions in order to serve our immature and needy caretakers. The characteristic perversion resulting from this disconnection is that sex addicts lose the ability to get pleasure from sexual activity, even as they declare their need for sexual pleasure. In fact, they don't know what sexual pleasure is. The abuse they suffered in childhood caused them to fuse fear, shame, lack of power and intensity with sexuality. Until addicts recover from this abuse, sexual motives will carry the rest of the painful bundle."

Something that came up for me after my session with my therapist is the realization that, while being molested as a child, sex felt like rejection to me. I was being violated because I was the "step" daughter. If I'd been "real" - I might have been good enough. I have spent my entire life feeling that sense of "not good enough." But this concept of sex feeling like rejection is new to me. It makes it more understandable that sexual intimacy with my husband has been so difficult through the years, while sex with strangers and men I've engaged in extramarital affairs with gave me a "high." Again, it goes back to control - I sought out those men, I pursued them and "caught" them. In a marriage, sex is not about control, but about sharing -- yet it has felt like something I was not allowed to say no to.

I recognize that some of these thoughts have still not gelled and may seem disconnected ... I am trying to get them out so I can look at them and process them. I do know that I could never get to this level of self-examination as long as I was acting out. Too much of my time and energy was spent focused on one person or the process of finding the next "high." I am grateful to have the clarity to seek these answers and to have these awarenesses. I am grateful to truly understand what it means to say ... "This program is about you."